Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lövin said Thursday that eight countries have signed on to an initiative countering President Trump’s anti-choice “global gag rule” policy.
Lilianne Ploumen, the Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation, announced the launch of a global crowdfunding platform to counter the effect of Trump’s gag rule in late January.
Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Canada, the Netherlands, and Cape Verde have committed to the fundraising effort for family planning in the wake of what Lövin deemed a policy that “could be so dangerous for so many women,” according to Reuters.
“Almost 225 million women and girls would like to avoid pregnancy but they have no access to contraceptives. Every day, over 800 women and girls die of pregnancy complications,” the effort’s website says, citing World Health Organization data.
“For years, the United States has been an important partner to help bring these numbers down,” it continues, noting that Trump’s anti-choice restriction on family planning funding now puts these efforts at risk. “We cannot let that happen. Women and girls should have the right to make their own choices. They should have access to adequate health care.”
“If women don’t have control over their bodies and their own fate it can have very serious consequences for global goals of gender rights and global poverty eradication,” Lövin told Reuters. A conference slated for March 2 in Brussels will kick-off the fundraising effort, she said.
Sweden is co-organizing the “She Decides” conference, which, along with Belgium, will fundraise for international aid organizations and United Nations agencies that work on family planning and women’s rights issues. It will “join forces and rally support for all these efforts that make sexual and reproductive health and rights a reality for millions of women and girls around the world,” Alexander De Croo, Belgium’s deputy prime minister and minister of development cooperation, told the New York Times.
The conference will provide space for countries, aid organizations, and private companies to ”launch a common strategy to limit the impact of this American decision for millions of women and girls,” explained a January announcement of the event.
Trump announced days after taking office in January that he would reinstate an anti-choice restriction prohibiting foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from providing abortion care and information if they wish to receive family planning funding from the United States.
The abortion restriction, known as both the “global gag rule” or the “Mexico City Policy,” bars NGOs from even using their own funding for abortion care. The Helms amendment already prohibited the use of U.S. foreign assistance funds “for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning.”
Trump’s take on the restriction not only put the Reagan-era ban back into effect, it also expanded it. His memorandum directed the secretaries of the State Department and the Department of Health and Human Services to come up with a plan to expand the restriction to apply not only to NGOs but also “to global health assistance furnished by all departments or agencies.” This could impact $9.5 billion in foreign aid, Michelle Goldberg reported for Slate.
Reproductive rights and health groups blasted Trump’s decision to reinstate the anti-choice gag rule, which would decrease access to reproductive health care across the world.
“The global gag rule will cause clinic closures around the world, resulting in more unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortion, not less,” Latanya Mapp Frett, executive director of Planned Parenthood Global, said in a January statement. “The world’s most vulnerable women will suffer as a direct result of this policy, which threatens to undermine years of efforts to improve women’s health worldwide.”